Friday, March 22, 2019

My Lenten devotional for St. Mark, published today:

Friday, August 25, 2017

August article for Rehoboth United Methodist Church Newsletter

A Presbyterian minister and one of my favorite theologians, Frederick Buechner, said “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
In my ministry with Habitat for Humanity, I have found that place. I truly believe that everyone deserves decent shelter, and with that foundation, people can build strength, stability, and self-reliance. Habitat’s mission expresses it well:  “Seeking to put God’s love into action Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.”
Each year for over thirty years, President and Mrs. Carter have spent a week of their lives putting their faith into action, building alongside families in need of decent shelter in the U.S. and abroad. Last month I joined them in Edmonton, Canada for this year’s Carter Work Project, helping 150 families throughout Canada build and improve places they can call home.  (And while President Carter was hospitalized on Thursday of that week because of dehydration, he made a deal with the hospital that he would stay for observation overnight only if he could get out by 6:00 am Friday morning to be present for Devotions on the build site.) At the opening event, President Carter said, “Habitat for Humanity is "the best way we've ever found to show our Christian faith and practice."
Saint Teresa of Avila is quoted as saying:
“Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which to look out
Christ's compassion to the world
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about
doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.”
How is Christ calling you to serve others?
I’m leading a small group to India in November (Nov. 11- 19) to build a simple dwelling there for a family. Perhaps that could be your call. (If you are interested in learning more, check this out: ). Or perhaps your call is service at A.C.T.S., providing warm meals to those who might otherwise go without. You do not need to go to foreign lands to be Jesus Christ’s hands and feet. Be still and listen to His call.

Monday, March 20, 2017

First day of Spring! Consider the lilies...

Today is the first day of spring. The world is fresh and new and in bloom!

Last Sunday, on a not quite spring afternoon, I took this picture of my favorite window at my church, featuring beautiful lilies and the birds of the air.

In the Gospel of Matthew, right there in the middle of The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us to "Consider the lilies." 

He uses lilies as an example for us, a reason to to give up our worries. He says, "do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:25-34)

As you start your spring cleaning and getting rid of the clutter in your life, consider the lilies. Get rid of the worries and fears you have by seeking God and his Kingdom first. Put your trust in him, and put your worries aside. 

Lord, give us the strength this day to seek you, trust you, and love you and your children. Help us to serve your kingdom here on earth, putting aside our selfish wants and fears, that we may do your will. Amen. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lenten Devotional

My Lenten Devotional for today, written for Saint Mark United Methodist Church's Lenten Devotional Guide:

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Readying for Lent

Next week, we’ll start the Lenten Season. I received an email from Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity last week, with a devotion for each week of Lent. In the email, he writes:

“We hope you will find it meaningful to reflect on what it means to follow Jesus personally and what it means for the ministry of Habitat for each of us to be faithful followers. As we look toward the cross, and ultimately the Resurrection, let us remember that trusting God enough to follow His call enables us to demonstrate the kingdom of God here on earth.”

The theme for the Habitat Lenten Devotions this year is “Follow Me.”

But what does it mean to follow Jesus?

I am reading a book by Jossy Chacko who spoke at Willow Creek Global Summit Leadership Summit last year. His organization Empart desires to “reach the unreached” to truly live out the words of The Great Commission:

Matthew 28: 16-20:  The eleven disciples went into Galilee to the hillside to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him, though some had doubts.Then Jesus approached them and told them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, as you go, disciple people in all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. And remember, I am with you each and every day[a] until the end of the age.”

When Jossy Chacko realized that there are thousands of people in Northern India that literally have never heard of the Gospel of Christ, he dedicated himself and his ministry to proclaiming the Good News there.

One challenge he has faced is that often "Christianity" gets in the way. People have been to a tent revival, raised their hands when called, prayed the Forgiveness Prayer, and think they are done. They claim to be Christian, but remain unreached.

Do we have the same problem, here in the U.S.? I think far too many believe the Kingdom of God is what happens when we die, rather than following His call to demonstrate the kingdom of God here on earth.

This week, I read about the Isaiah 58 Challenge from Lynne Hybels (who with her husband Bill founded Willow Creek.) A decade ago, a friend asked her to read Isaiah 58 every day for 30 days. After doing so, she said she now knew why she was on this planet.

In Isaiah 58, God calls out his people – the devout, those who fast, who are practicing the rituals of religion without truly answering the call.
Is this what you call "Fasting," God asks?

Is this what you call a fast,
    an acceptable day to the Lord?
Isn’t this the fast that I have been choosing:
    to loose the bonds of injustice,
 to untie the cords of the yoke,
    and to let the oppressed go free,
        and to break every yoke?
Isn’t it to share your bread with the hungry,
    and to bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked,
    to cover him with clothing,
        and not to raise yourself up
[ from your own flesh and blood?”

Isaiah goes on to say:
“if you pour yourself out for the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of afflicted souls,
then your light will rise in darkness,
    and your night will be like noonday.”

Christ echoes this call when he tells us in Matthew 5 to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth:

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its savor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

Let us pray.

Father, let us live your Gospel, to be that shining city on a hill that cannot be hidden. Let us live out loud the prayer that your son taught us, that your will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven. Let us not wait for your coming Glory, but Let us proclaim the Good news of Christ with our lives in the here and now. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.